Thanks to the Unicoi County Apple Festival, the Valley Beautiful has had the opportunity to welcome thousands of visitors to Erwin for more than three decades.
Again this year, the festival will give the county an opportunity to showcase all that makes it unique.
The Apple Festival is a major tourism event, Amanda Delp, executive director of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, said. It gives us an opportunity to draw visitors to our county that may never visit it otherwise. When they are here it gives us an opportunity to show visitors why they should return again and again.
The 2012 staging of the festival marks the 35th anniversary of this uniquely Unicoi County event. First held in 1978, the festival has grown from just a few booths on Main Avenue near the Unicoi County Courthouse into a festival spanning several city blocks and offering more than 350 vendor booths; it has also been named one of the Southeast Tourism Societys Top 20 Events several times and is a three-year winner of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Associations Pinnacle Award.
Readers will find a full story about the history of the festival and other festival-related articles in The Erwin Records Apple Festival supplement in this edition.
The 35th annual Unicoi County Apple Festival will be held on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6, from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. each day.
As it does each year, the festival will offer something for everyone, according to Delp.
The Apple Festival is known for having something that each visitor can enjoy, Delp said. Whether they are looking for good food, good music, beautiful crafts, contests or activities for their children, they can find it at the festival.
The annual Blue Ridge Pottery Show and Sale, a popular attraction for visitors and locals, will be held in conjunction with the festival again this year. Held at the Unicoi County Intermediate School, the show will feature more than 10 vendors selling pieces from their Blue Ridge Pottery collections.
A preview sale will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 6-9 p.m. A $5 admission fee will be charged for the preview sale.
The show and sale will kick off on Friday morning at 9 a.m. and will be open until 5 p.m. The show will reopen on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. and will close at 3 p.m. Admission to the show Friday and Saturday is free.
Shuttles will be available at the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center, Union Street, to transport festivalgoers from the festival grounds to the school.
In addition to the vendor booths and food courts lining the streets of downtown Erwin, two entertainment stages will offer continuous entertainment to festivalgoers.
During the two-day festival, gospel groups from around the nation will perform on the Phil Bachman Toyota and Hometown IGA Gospel Stage.
Bluegrass, country and clogging fans should make their way to the Gathering Place Stage sponsored by Waste Managment, CenturyLink and Nuclear Fuel Services for two days of entertainment.
For the first time, the festival will also include a commercial vendor court. From the public parking lot located behind the courthouse, commercial vendors will advertise and market their products to festivalgoers.
Traditional Apple Festival events such as the cooking contest, road race, tennis tournament, photography contest, as well as the Unicoi County Family YMCA childrens area, will also be part of the 2012 festival.
This is going to be another great festival, Delp said. We are very excited to welcome our local residents and thousands of visitors to Unicoi County on Friday and Saturday.
Delp said that once again, pets, bicycles and skateboards are not permitted on the festival grounds.
For more information about the festival, call the Chamber at 743-3000 or visit www.unicoicounty.org.
By Keeli Parkey